Legislative Round-up: November 1, 2019

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived


  1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters 
  2. Hearings
  3. On the Record 
  1. Bills,  Resolutions, & Letters


(BAD TURKEY!) HR 4695: Introduced 10/16 by Engel (D-NY) and having 104 bipartisan cosponsors, the “Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act.” On 10/29, brought to the floor under suspension of the rules and passed by a vote of 403-16 (Roll no. 592). Floor consideration of the bill 10/29 is here.  Van Hollen (D-MD) statement praising the House action is here. House press releases in support: Engel (D-NY) Sarbanes (D-MD), Peters (D-CA), Lee (D-NV), Ryan (D-OH), Hill (R-AR), Cisneros (D-CA), Schakowsky (D-IL), Fletcher (D-TX), Bacon (R-NE), LaHood (R-IL), Allred (D-TX), Lipinski (D-IL), Hoyer (D-MD), Brindisi (D-NY), Pelosi (D-CA), Cheney (R-WI), Mouton (D-MA), Estes (R-KS), Gonzalez (D-TX), Omar (D-MN - voting no)


(AID TO VETTED SYRIAN OPPOSITION) S. 2731: Introduced 10/29 by Inhofe (R-OK), the “Essential National Security Authorities Act for Fiscal Year 2020.” Referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Section 1221 extends authority to provide assistance to the vetted Syrian opposition through December 31, 2020.


(CONGRESS RECOGNIZES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE - FINALLY) H. Res. 296: Introduced 4/8 by Schiff (D-CA) and having 141 bipartisan cosponsors, “Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide.” On10/28, H. Res. 655, providing for consideration of H. Res. 296, was brought to the floor - floor consideration of H. Res. 655 is here. On 10/29, the House passed H. Res. 655 by a vote of 223-191, paving the way for H. Res. 296 to brought to the floor. Floor consideration 10/29 of H. Res. 296 10/29 is here, paving the way for passage of the resolution by 10/29 by a vote of 405-11, with 3 voting Present. Also, see statements from: Gabbard (D-HI), Sherman (D-CA), Langevin (D-RI), Sarbanes (D-MD), Gosar (R-AZ-- “Why I Will Not Conflate Ottoman Empire Ethnic/Religious Cleansing with Turkey Today”), Cisneros (D-CA), Speier (D-CA), Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Beyer (D-VA), Eshoo (D-CA), Omar (D-MN -- voting present). NOTE: As members congratulate themselves for passing this resolution and as outside groups offer accolades for them doing so, it is worth recalling that efforts to pass a Congressional resolution of this nature date back to at least 1975. And it is worth recalling that a major stumbling block to passing such a resolution was, until relatively recently, opposition from the US Jewish community (and Israel), elements of which opposed the measure as part of their support for Turkey (in the context of Turkey’s importance as an ally of Israel -- from the archives, for folks who have forgotten: ADL local leader fired on Armenian issue - the ADL only changed its policy in 2016).  


(NEED A PLAN TO DEFEAT ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ & SYRIA)  S. 2755: Introduced 10/30 by Schumer (D-NY) and 8 Democratic cosponsors, “A bill to require a report on the plan to secure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” On 10/31 the bill was read the second time and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. 


(NO MISDIRECTING OF US AID TO SYRIA PEOPLE) HR 4868: Introduced 10/28 by Wilson (R-SC) and 7 bipartisan cosponsors, “To certify that United States assistance to the United Nations for humanitarian programs in the Syrian Arab Republic is not misdirected, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Wilson press release is here.


(SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR KURDS WHO HELPED US) HR 4873: Introduced 10/28 by Crow (D-CO) and having 5 bipartisan cosponsors, “To provide for special immigrant status for Syrian Kurds and other Syrians who partnered with the United States Government in Syria, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees. Press releases: Crow (D-CO), Waltz (R-FL), Langevin (D-RI)


(REMOVE US FORCES FROM SYRIA) H. Con. Res. 70: Introduced 10/31 by Gabbard (D-HI), “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Syrian Arab Republic that have not been authorized by Congress.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs


(BAD UAE - STOP ILLICIT DEALINGS WITH IRAN!) H. Res. 671: Introduced 10/31 by Cleaver (D-MO), “Urging the United Arab Emirates to immediately end any activities enabling money laundering in violation of United States sanctions against Iran.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 


(CONGRESS <HEARTS> TUNISIA) S. Res. 236: Introduced 6/5 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 2 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution reaffirming the strong partnership between Tunisia and the United States and supporting the people of Tunisia in their continued pursuit of democratic reforms.” Brought to the Senate floor 10/29 and passed by Voice Vote.


(NEVER FORGET - IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS) S. Res. 395: Introduced 10/31 by Isakson (R-GA) and 2 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Iran Hostage Crisis, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. 


(RELEASE INFO ON 9/11 ATTACKS) H. Res. 662: Introduced 10/29 by Gabbard (D-HI), “Urging the release of information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.” Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.


(REMEMBERING THE AMIA ATTACKS) S. Res. 277: Introduced 7/17 by Menendez (D-NJ) and  9 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution remembering the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and recommitting to efforts to uphold justice for the 85 victims of the attack.” Brought to the Senate floor 10/29 and passed by Unanimous Consent.


(US-JORDAN DEFENSE COOPERATION) HR 4862: Introduced 10/28 by Deutch (D-FL) and having 8 bipartisan cosponsors, the “United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; marked-up in Committee 10/30.


(US MUST HELP HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS IN SYRIA) Murphy et al letter to Pompeo: On 10/31, Murphy (D-CT) led a letter to SecState Pompeo, cosigned by 5 Democratic Senate colleagues, calling on him to ensure U.S. resources are made flexible for humanitarian efforts to evacuate personnel and continue assisting Syrian refugees inside Iraq, and expressing urgent concern for the situation in northeast Syria after the Trump administration’s decision to pull out. Press release is here.


(NEED ANSWERS RE: USE OF CW & US MUNITIONS IN SYRIA): Van Hollen et al letter Pompeo: On 10/25, Senators Van Hollen (D-MD), Leahy (D-VT), Blackburn (R-TN) and Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo expressing “concern regarding reports of the use of chemical weapons against civilian populations and the potential use of U.S.-origin defense articles by Turkish-backed forces in Syria” and seeking answers from Pompeo regarding these reports. Press release is here.


(APPOINT AN AMBASSADOR TO SUDAN) Booker et al letter to Trump: On 10/25, Senators Booker (D-NK), Kaine (D-VA), Coons (D-DE) and Murphy (D-CT) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to appoint an ambassador to Sudan. Press release is here


(WHAT IS US POLICY RE: THREATS TO JOURNOS ABROAD?) Blumenthal et al letter to State Dept: On 10/24, Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) led a letter, signed by 17 colleagues, addressed to Under Secretay of State for Political Affairs David Hale, seeking additional information about what practices and policies are in place to assist journalists who face threats to their personal safety while reporting overseas and “to encourage the Department of State to actively protect reporters from retaliation they may experience in the countries where they work.” The letter comes on the heels of a report of the near-arrest of New York Times Cairo Bureau Chief Declan Walsh, who was alerted of his imminent detention by Egyptian authorities in 2017 by an anonymous U.S. official who “feared significant career repercussions in issuing this warning, as the Administration never intended to inform Walsh of the threat.” Press release is here.


(US EQUIP TO UAE ENDING UP IN YEMEN?) Engel-Deutch letter to Pompeo & Esper: On 10/23, Reps. Engel (D-NY) and Deutch (D-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 11 Democratic colleagues, to SecState Pompeo and SecDef Esper requesting an urgent briefing regarding reports that U.S.-origin military equipment provided to the UAW ended up in the hands of secessionist forces in Yemen. The letter also expresses concern that the Islamic State is exploiting unrest in southern Yemen. Press release is here.


  1. Hearings


10/31: The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe held a hearing on Capitol Hill entitled, “At What Cost - The Human Toll of Turkey’s Policy at Home and Abroad.” Testifying were: Henri Barkey, Lehigh University (statement); Eric Schwartz, Refugees International (statement), Merve Tahiroglu, POMED (statement), Gonul Tol, MEI (statement) and Talip Kucukcan, Marmara University (statement). Video is here.


10/29: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism held a hearing entitled, “The FY20 Budget: Examining the Administration's Policy Objectives for a Turbulent Middle East.” Witnesses were: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker (statement), and USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East  Michael Harvey (statement). Video is here.


  1. On the Record

[NOTE: Statements on the killing of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi ARE not included in the Round-Up - if you are looking to see if a particular member said something, check his/her website]

McConnell (R-KY) 10/31: Floor statement on Turkey & Syria [excerpt: “I have spoken at length about my concerns on Turkey's incursion and my opposition to withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, but I believe we need to be guided by our strategic interests, not emotions, as we seek to contain the damage of Turkey's incursion, peel Ankara away from Moscow, and encourage better behavior at home and abroad by Erdogan's government.  I hope we will carefully consider all of our options to achieve these important objectives and carefully examine whether a broad mandatory sanctions bill is really the best solution....”]

McConnell (R-KY) 10/31: Floor statement on protests in Lebanon and Iraq [“Unsurprisingly, the Iranian regime is reportedly involved in violently suppressing peaceful protests in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and, of course, Iran itself. The mullahs are showing the same fear as the Chinese Communist Party. They are afraid of citizens demanding reform and speaking up for basic freedoms. The United States should stand with the protesters. The administration should use the tools at its disposal to expose corruption and foreign interference in these nations, impose consequences for violent crackdowns on peaceful protests, and work with the Lebanese and Iraqi leaders who are committed to doing right by their people.”]

Lynch (D-MA) 10/30: Recap Of Chairman Lynch Hearing On Trump Administration’s Syria Policy

Schumer (D-NY) 10/30: Re Admin briefing to Congressional delegation on Syria

Shaheen (D-NH) & Hassan (D-NH) 10/31: Shaheen & Hassan Cosponsor Bipartisan, Comprehensive Syria-Turkey Legislation (S. 2641)

Biggs (R-AZ) 10/29: Op-ed in the Hill - US troop withdrawal from Syria could put region on path to stability and peace

Scott (R-FL) 10/29: Sen. Rick Scott Denounces Dems’ Latest Attempt to Push Anti-Israel Policies [“The strength and security of one of our strongest allies, Israel, should never be a partisan issue. Unfortunately, the Democrats continue to try to cut funding for Israel and push an anti-Israel agenda. They are masking their attempts to cut funding by suggesting the United States use this money as leverage to force Israel to kowtow to terrorist organizations…Democrats who continue to support cutting funding to Israel are hypocrites – they espouse virtues like love, equality and freedom, yet they want to defund the only nation that truly shares those values in the Middle East. We cannot accept this, and I will fight every day to support Israel and block any attempt by the Democrats to cut funding”] 

Granger (R-TX) 10/28: Granger Commends Defense Department for Landmark Purchase of F-35 Fighters [“...I applaud the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin for their efforts to ensure our outstanding military – and our allies like Israel – have the best equipment possible to carry out their vital mission.”]

Lankford (R-OK) 10/25: Senator Lankford Releases Podcast on Decision to Withdrawal Troops from Syria [“Lankford discusses the history of the United States’ relationship with the Kurdish people, President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, and the relationship between Turkey and the Kurds.”]

Collins (R-GA) 10/23: Op-ed “Anti-Semitism Has No Place in Our Hearts” [using anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre (perpetrated by a white supremacist) to promote the conflation of free speech/non-violent activism critical of Israel with anti-Semitism (to the extent where real anti-Semitism is pushed off the agnda) that must be vanquished, and plugging the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act - which would define criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism]